Operation Chastise 75

Operation Chastise 75

Welcome to this latest edition of Workbench and all the news, updates and exclusive announcements from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling. On the first of April, the Royal Air Force marked its centenary and with it, the launch of a year of events intended to commemorate this significant occasion in some style. The establishment of the RAF saw the amalgamation of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps into a single air fighting force and was the culmination of many months of planning in an attempt to end the frustrations and wastefulness of operating the two as separate air forces. At the time of its formation, the new Royal Air Force was the first independent air arm in the world, immediately becoming the largest and most powerful air force, with some 300,000 service personnel and 22,000 aircraft under its control.

In this latest edition of Workbench, we will pay our own tribute to RAF 100 by taking a closer look at the impending re-issue of a classic Airfix kit, which allows modellers to build an example of one of nineteen 'Special' Bomber Command aircraft which took part in one of WWII’s most audacious bombing raids, a raid which continues to amaze and inspire to this day – ‘Operation Chastise’ and the famous Dambusters of No.617 Squadron. We will be looking at the scheme options included with this fabulous kit, whilst also re-acquainting ourselves with the spectacular box artwork which has already served as inspiration for thousands of modelling projects across the world. If one classic British aviation type were not enough, we also feature a hugely successful jet trainer which will be celebrating its 42nd year in RAF service this month and a fantastic new kit for the 2018 range, which includes two classic schemes from the service career of this aircraft. We announce the lucky winner of our recent 1/24th scale Hawker Typhoon competition and we look at a trio of models from the Huddersfield Model Show held earlier this year, which prove that modelling projects don’t have to look pristine to have huge aesthetic appeal. Yet another feature packed edition of our blog, so let’s make a start straight away.

Elite unit formed for ‘Special’ task

Undoubtedly qualifying as one of the most famous bombing raid in the history of air warfare, the Dambusters Raid of 16th/17th May 1943 has been commemorated over the years as one of the most audacious bombing attacks of the Second World War, ensuring its Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Guy Gibson became something of an aviation celebrity figure. As we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the raid this coming May, it could be argued that ‘Operation Chastise’ was much more significant than just a successful bombing raid by a relatively small force of specially modified Lancasters and their crews, as it also served to demonstrate the resolve and determination of the Allies to prevail in their struggle at all costs. The raid highlighting the fact that Bomber Command had both the technology and capability to strike at the very heart of Nazi Germany’s war machine and perhaps even more than this, its success also managed to bypass Germany’s extremely effective propaganda machine, clearly showing the German people that no matter what they were being told via official channels, they were going to lose this war.

Charged with forming a new ‘Specialist’ Squadron at RAF Scampton in March 1943, Wing Commander Guy Gibson gave his assessment of the challenge which lay before him by stating ‘This Squadron will either make history or it will be completely wiped out’. Taking experienced volunteer crews from within 5 Group Bomber Command, Squadron X (or 617 Squadron as it would later be numbered) was formed under the utmost secrecy, which for the men who joined would mean censorship screening of all letters and monitored telephone conversations. Initially, the Squadron received ten Lancaster bombers for training purposes, taking aircraft from existing operational units as these had been tried and tested on operations. It was felt that new aircraft were usually prone to suffering from numerous annoying little problems and the tight training schedule meant that there was absolutely no time to waste on rectifying such issues. The training would be extremely intense and would be both physically and mentally demanding for the airmen involved. The crews would be required to fly their Lancasters at low level by both day and night and over some of the most demanding terrain in the UK, including the steeply protected approaches to three specific reservoir sites around the country – Eyebrook in Leicestershire, Abberton near Colchester and Derwent Dam in Derbyshire. These locations were selected to prepare the crews for their impending Special Mission, although at this time neither they, nor Wing Commander Gibson were aware of their intended target.

Airfix Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) The Dambusters A09007

Computer rendered 3d images of the ‘Upkeep’ bomb circulated at the time this kit was announced in 2013

On 8th April 1943, the first of 20 modified type 464 ‘Provisioning’ Avro Lancasters arrived at RAF Scampton, which included two under-fuselage spotlights and modified bomb bay, featuring robust mounting arms and drive mechanism to allow the ingenious ‘Upkeep bomb’ to be delivered effectively. Although often referred to as ‘Bouncing Bombs’ Upkeep resembled more of a large oil drum than anything else, but weighing in at just over 4 tonnes, this powerful mine was developed with one specific aim in mind, the destruction of a dam. Just a few days before the raid was due to take place, 56 of the Upkeep mines were also delivered to Scampton, which must have caused significant interest amongst the crews training hard using the ten standard Lancasters. On 12th May, less than five days before the raid was scheduled to take place, some No.617 Squadron crews began training with their new Lancasters, equipped with their unusual bombs, with Gibson and his crew being amongst the first. Performing practice releases at the test site at Reculver on the north Kent coast, crews were amazed to see these large rotating mines actually skipping along the surface of the sea and heading inland towards the beach, leading many of them to immediately assume that their intended target would be the massive German battleship Tirpitz.

The intense flying training in the days leading up to the dam’s raid illustrated that there was a problem with the initial delivery instructions issued to the crews. Dropping their mines at a height of 150ft was resulting in too many of them breaking up or failing to deploy as intended. Watching from the beach at Reculver, the inventor of the weapon and its delivery method, Barnes Wallis, could clearly see the problems the Lancaster crews were having and amended the optimum delivery requirements to ensure their success – unfortunately, these changes were not going to make things any easier for the crews. Still unaware of their intended target, the crews must deliver their Upkeep mine from a height of just 60ft above the water, travelling at 220mph and at a distance of around 450 metres from the target, all whilst potentially coming under heavy enemy defensive fire, having safely navigated to a target by night. The back-spinning mine was designed to skip across the surface of the water, bouncing over defensive anti-torpedo nets before coming to rest against the wall of the dam. The still back-spinning mine would begin to sink, with the direction of the spin ensuring it retained contact with the dam wall and at a pre-determined depth of 30ft, would detonate causing maximum damage and hopefully a breach of the structure – that was the theory in any case. For this to happen, the crews would have to navigate to their targets at extremely low level and over hostile territory, before negotiating the steeply sided valleys which protected the dams and perfectly executing their attack run, most likely coming under intense enemy defensive fire and using a new weapon operationally for the first time.

Ruhr Dams to be attacked

Airfix Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) The Dambusters A09007 Artwork

Even this evocative box artwork cannot do justice to the achievements of the men of No.617 Squadron on the night of 16th/17th May 1943

During the afternoon of the attack date of 16th May 1943, a full briefing took place at Scampton and for the first time, the men of No.617 Squadron would learn of the task that lay before them and the reason behind the weeks of intensive training, although Gibson himself had been briefed the day previously. The attack would be formed of three waves of aircraft, with the first two having defined targets, whilst the third would follow later as a reserve force and receive their target instructions en-route, dependent on the success for the previous attacks. The second wave, which consisted of five aircraft, had a primary target of the Sorpe Dam, but as their route took them on a more northerly course than the main attack wave, they were the first aircraft to leave Scampton. These were closely followed at 9.39pm by the first wave, which consisted of nine Lancasters heading for their primary target of the Mohne Dam and was led by the Operation Commander Guy Gibson. These aircraft would leave Scampton in sections of three, ten minutes apart and take a route south over Suffolk, before heading out over the North Sea and crossing the Dutch coast at Zeeland, heading inland towards their target. The routes had been planned to avoid known concentrations of defensive flak and Luftwaffe nightfighter bases, but a raid of this size was certain to attract the attentions of enemy units. The third attack wave would follow the same route as Gibson’s main group but would not take off from Scampton until just after midnight on the morning of 17th May, over two hours after the first Lancasters had left. We now know that by this time, the attacking force had already lost three aircraft destroyed and a further two being forced to abort their missions and return to base. Guy Gibson and his crew were also approaching the vicinity of their primary target and preparing to launch their first attack run against the Mohne Dam.

As we now know, 'Operation Chastise' was heralded as a huge strategic and military propaganda success, but this would come at a very heavy price to the men of RAF No.617 Squadron. Although both the Mohne and Eder dams were successfully breached and the Sorpe suffered damage, eight of the nineteen Lancasters taking part in ‘Operation Chastise’ failed to return to Scampton, with 53 airmen tragically losing their lives – this represented a casualty rate of almost 40%. With an average age of just twenty-two years, this collection of airmen from Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA came together to achieve something extraordinary and provide the Allied nations with a timely morale boost as they prepared for the final thrust against the Axis powers. It could be argued that the legacy of ‘Operation Chastise’ proved to be much more than the efforts of 19 specially equipped Lancasters and their precision bombing mission, but there can be no doubt that the airmen of RAF No.617 Squadron who carried out the raid will always be remembered as the ‘Dambusters’, with every one of them rightly earning a unique place in aviation history.

Modelling tribute to the men behind the Dambusters Raid

Airfix Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) The Dambusters A09007

Announced in the 2013 Airfix range, this newly tooled Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) featured high levels of detail, which can be seen in this computer rendered 3d image which was used to promote the model

The nineteen specially modified Avro Lancaster B.III (Specials) have been a source of fascination to aviation enthusiasts and modellers alike over the past 75 years and in this significant anniversary year, a Chastise Lancaster simply had to be available in the Airfix range. This beautifully presented kit was newly tooled to take its place in the 2013 range and has always been amongst the most popular models in any range in which it appears. As we currently find ourselves not only in the 75th anniversary year of the Chastise raid, but also the centenary year of the Royal Air Force, as one of the most famous aircraft types to serve in the RAF, modellers will be pleased to hear that this superb kit is about to hit model stores all over the world once more. Scheduled to be released later this month, A09007 features excellent levels of detail, a scale representation of the ‘Upkeep’ mine and two scheme options for aircraft which took part in the raid on the night of 16th/17th May 1943.

Avro Lancaster B.III (Special), ED825 AJ-T, Reserve aircraft flown by Flight Lieutenant Joseph Charles McCarthy DFC (Royal Canadian Air Force), RAF No.617 Squadron, ‘Operation Chastise’, Scampton, England, 16th/17th May 1943

Airfix Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) The Dambusters A09007
Airfix Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) The Dambusters A09007

Full scheme details for raid replacement Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) ED825

Joe McCarthy and his crew were assigned to be part of the second attack wave, consisting of five Lancasters, but on the night of the mission itself, their departure would prove to be one of the most eventful. Having discovered a glycol leak on starting up their originally allocated aircraft (ED915), the crew were forced to hastily transfer to a spare aircraft, which was fortunately fuelled, armed and ready to go. This Lancaster ED825 had only been delivered to Scampton on the day of the raid, having previously been used in various flight trials at the A&AEE Boscombe Down and although historians have struggled to find corroborative evidence, it is assumed that ground crews had time to paint the squadron code letters on the fuselage of the aircraft. It was, however, not fitted with the spotlights or VHF equipment featured on the other ‘Special’ Lancasters.

ED825’s departure from Scampton was delayed still further as the compass deviation card, which was so vital to the success of this mission, was not found in the cockpit of this replacement aircraft and a crew member was forced to make a hectic dash across the airfield to locate one. Eventually leaving Scampton over half an hour after the rest of the second wave, McCarthy made good time, arriving over the Sorpe Dam just after midnight. Because of the surrounding terrain, this dam would prove to be a notoriously difficult target to hit and taking their place in the carefully orchestrated attack sequence, McCarthy and his crew would make no fewer than nine bombing runs against the Sorpe, eventually releasing their mine in the almost perfect position. Aircraft and crew made it back to RAF Scampton at approximately 03.30 in the morning.

Avro Lancaster B.III (Special), ED927 AJ-E, aircraft flown by Flight Lieutenant Robert Norman George Barlow DFC (Royal Australian Air Force), RAF No.617 Squadron, ‘Operation Chastise’, Scampton, England, 16th/17th May 1943

Airfix Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) The Dambusters A09007
Airfix Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) The Dambusters A09007

Full scheme details for the aircraft which led off the famous Dambusters

Another aircraft from the second attack wave ED927 was actually the lead aircraft for ‘Operation Chastise’, taking off from RAF Scampton at approximately 21.28 in the late evening. As this wave was to follow a more northerly route than the aircraft assigned to attack the Mohne dam, this second wave left Scampton before the main force of nine Lancasters led by Guy Gibson. After a relatively uneventful flight before entering German territory, the bomber struck high tension electricity cables near the town of Rees in northern Rhineland and hit the ground at high speed, breaking up in flames. The Upkeep mine the Lancaster carried was thrown clear of the wreckage and survived intact, becoming a source of fascination for local village folk. Tragically, the crew of ED927 had no time to react to the collision and all perished in the resultant crash.

Whether the modeller intends to build their Dambusters Lancaster as one of the eleven aircraft to make it back to RAF Scampton or as a tribute to a brave Bomber Command crew who made the ultimate sacrifice for their devotion to duty, A09007 will be available on the Airfix website and in all good model stores before the 75th anniversary of this famous raid.

Colourful Hawks mark 42 years of RAF service

British Aerospace Hawk T.Mk.1 RAF Chivenor A03085A

Many would argue that this camouflaged Hawk looks even more appealing that the distinctive aircraft flown by the Red Arrows

As the Royal Air Force introduced a new advanced pilot training aircraft to replace its ageing Gnat and Hunter aircraft in 1974, they would certainly have been hoping to get many years of service from their latest acquisition, but few would have expected the BAe Hawk to be still going strong 42 years later. Clearly, the fact that the world’s most famous aerobatic team have long been associated with this superb aircraft has done nothing to harm to its reputation, but with over 1000 aircraft produced to this date, the British Aerospace Hawk has to be considered a hugely successful British aircraft, both at home and overseas. An impending 1/72nd scale release celebrates the fact that the Hawk is much more than simply the mount of the high profile Red Arrows and introduces two scheme options which highlight both the attractive lines of the aircraft, whilst also underlining its effectiveness in fulfilling a number of training and secondary roles.

The Hawker Siddeley (British Aerospace) Hawk was developed as the result of an RAF requirement to replace the diminutive Folland Gnat trainer, which had provided the RAF with
a subsonic advanced pilot training aircraft throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. The Hawk first flew in 1974 and entered RAF service just two years later, immediately proving to be a huge improvement on its predecessor and providing the RAF with a much more versatile aircraft. Powered by the extremely economical Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour engine, which was a dry version (without after-burner) of the engine used in the larger SEPECAT Jaguar strike aircraft, which was a proven, successful and reliable design. Although the Hawk entered RAF service as an advanced pilot training aircraft, it soon became apparent that it was capable of much more and over the course of the next few years it was used extensively in the tactical weapons training role and even as a highly agile airfield point defence fighter – this little Hawk was proving to be quite an aircraft. Throughout its service life, the versatility of the basic Hawk design allowed the aircraft to benefit from a number of upgrades and enhancements which re-invigorated the capabilities of the aircraft and ensuring it remained at the forefront of RAF pilot training requirements.

British Aerospace Hawk T.Mk.1, XX353, No.151 (Fighter) Squadron, Royal Air Force Chivenor, Devon, England, July 1983

British Aerospace Hawk T.Mk.1 RAF Chivenor A03085A
British Aerospace Hawk T.Mk.1 RAF Chivenor A03085A

Full scheme details for this extremely handsome wrap-around camouflage Hawk weapons trainer

Once a pilot had demonstrated his or her flying capabilities in the Hawk, they would then progress to learn how to fight in the aircraft and receive instruction on how to deliver and manage its weapons systems. This transition would be a comfortable one for the student pilot, who was already familiar with the Hawk and for the Ministry of Defence, as this offered an extremely cost effective training solution. As a weapons trainer, the Hawk
T.1 could be equipped with an under fuselage mounted Aden cannon and rocket pods or practice bombs on under-wing hard points, allowing the student to perfect their attack skills. For pilots who were hoping to join an air defence squadron, the Hawk was similarly at home with a pair of Sidewinder missiles and in the event of conflict, was more than capable of becoming a highly maneuverable, short range air defence fighter, freeing up the Tornado F.3 (at the time) and Typhoons for long range interception duties. At lower altitudes, the diminutive Hawk would prove to be a capable adversary and when combined with the excellent training afforded to RAF aircrews, would surely have taken a significant toll of enemy aircraft, should a significant incursion have occurred.

The North Devon airfield at Chivenor was re-activated in 1979 and was home to No. 2 Tactical Weapons Unit, flying the British Aerospace Hawk T.1 with Nos.63 and 151 Squadrons, training fast jet pilots and navigators in both air to air and air to ground weapons tactics. Taking around 50 pilots each year, they would be instructed on low level formation flying, evasion and air combat techniques and if successfully completing the four month course, were posted to front line Operational Conversion Units. In addition to these duties, the unit was in great demand across the RAF for providing fast jet threat and Dissimilar Aircraft Combat Training, due to the effectiveness of the Hawk at lower altitudes. Indeed, in this role, No.151 (F) Squadron were indirectly involved in the Falklands War, as they simulated Argentinean aircraft threats for Harrier pilots working up for deployment to the South Atlantic.

The attractive Hawk offered with this scheme marks one of the distinctive aircraft to serve in the TWU training role at Chivenor and one which was to be involved in an unfortunate incident, underlining the aggressive and demanding nature of this type of flying. The aircraft was engaged in performing tail-chase manoeuvres with Hawk squadron mate XX336 over the North Devon countryside when the two aircraft collided – the crew of XX353 immediately lost control of their aircraft and safely ejected, leaving the stricken aircraft to crash near the village of Holsworthy. The crew of the other Hawk intended to nurse their damaged aircraft back to Chivenor, but the damage to the nose sustained during the incident would probably have placed the instructor in danger during the landing. The Hawk headed out to sea, where the instructor safely ejected. Unfortunately, the combination of the ejection procedure and the structural damage to the aircraft quickly made it uncontrollable and the student was also forced to eject, leaving the aircraft to crash into the sea – two RAF TWU Hawks lost in a matter of minutes. Thankfully, all four crew members survived to explain the incident to their superiors.

British Aerospace Hawk T.Mk.1, XX256, No.208 (R) Squadron, Royal Air Force Valley, Anglesey, Wales, April 2016 – Squadron Centenary scheme

British Aerospace Hawk T.Mk.1 RAF No208 Squadron Centenary RAF Valley A03085A
British Aerospace Hawk T.Mk.1 RAF No208 Squadron Centenary RAF Valley A03085A

As we were fortunate enough to be present at the Centenary commemorations of RAF No.208 Squadron at RAF Valley in 2016, this will be a popular scheme option around the Airfix office

Royal Air Force No.208 (Reserve) Squadron can trace its origins back to October 1916, when the unit was formed as No.8 (Naval) Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service at Dunkirk. Originally tasked with reinforcing Royal Flying Corps units during the heavy fighting on the Western Front, No.8 NAS were required to be highly mobile and operated from a number of different airfields during this time, using such aircraft as the Sopwith Pup and Nieuport Scout. With the creation of the Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918, the unit was incorporated into the new force and re-numbered No.208 Squadron. At this time, the Squadron was flying the Sopwith Camel and performing artillery spotting and ground attack roles in the final months of WWI, before staying on to fly with the occupation forces immediately after the war. With their return to Britain in late 1919, the Squadron soon disbanded.

Perhaps the most significant development in the history of No.208 Squadron occurred in February 1920, when the unit re-formed at Ismailia, in Egypt. This saw the beginning of an incredible 51 years of unbroken service in the skies above the Middle East, a proud heritage which is celebrated to this day. Operating the Bristol F.2 Fighter and later the Armstrong Whitworth Atlas, No.208 Squadron were engaged in pioneering work in the field of airborne military reconnaissance and it was during this period that the Squadron adopted their distinctive crest of a ‘winged eye’, looking out from an azure blue sky. During this long association with the Middle East, No.208 Squadron pilots flew such aircraft as the Westland Lysander, Curtiss Tomahawk and Spitfire, before moving into the jet age with the Gloster Meteor and Hawker Hunter.

British Aerospace Hawk T.Mk.1 RAF No208 Squadron Centenary RAF Valley A03085A

Despite the spectacular colours of this No.208 Squadron Centenary scheme, the Anglesey weather did its utmost to spoil the Squadron’s special day

This famous squadron began its long association with the British Aerospace Hawk jet trainer and RAF Valley on the island of Anglesey in April 1994, where it would provide Advanced Flying and Tactical Weapons Training to RAF and Royal Navy student pilots, (as well as for non-UK student pilots), Instructor Training and Conversion Training, including providing support for pilots destined for the Royal Air Force Aerobatics Team, the Red Arrows.

On 1st April 2016, Airfix were invited to attend a very special event at RAF Valley to mark the centenary year of No.208(R) Squadron, exactly 22 years to the day since the Squadron was reformed at the airfield with their BAe Hawk jets. One of the highlights of event was the opportunity to photograph the two 208 Squadron Hawks which had been specially painted to mark this occasion – both featured an attractive ‘Centenary tail fin’, with this special artwork helping to mark the proud heritage of the Squadron and was the result of ideas submitted by serving Squadron members. The distinctive artwork utilises the sand yellow and blue colours which became synonymous with No.208 Squadron during the inter-war years and its time spent in the Middle East, with the blue representing the cloudless Middle-Eastern skies and the yellow signifying the desert sand. The artwork also features the Great Sphinx of Giza, which forms part of the Squadron crest and looked magnificent on the tails of this pair of all-black Hawks. The aircraft to benefit from this distinctive artwork are the subject of our second scheme option to be included with this soon to be released kit, XX256 and its sister aircraft XX188 – unfortunately, the Welsh weather did not attempt to replicate the Middle Eastern theme of this impressive artwork and was terrible throughout the entire day.

The two attractive new schemes included with this 1/72nd scale Hawk T.Mk.1 kit (A03085A) are certain to pose some build quandaries for modellers following its release later this month, but we are very much looking forward to seeing which scheme you decided to go with in the Customer Images of our website in the near future.

Are you our Typhoon winner?

Hawker Typhoon 1B - Car Door 1:24 scale A19003

In what proved to be one of the most popular recent editions of Workbench, we featured a magnificent 1/24th scale Hawker Typhoon build by Canadian reader David Gaspur, who not content with modifying his kit to allow additional internal detail to be viewed, but also producing a scale museum diorama setting to display his finished model. We ended the review of this impressive build by running a competition, where we offered one lucky Workbench reader the chance to win the current 1/24th scale Hawker Typhoon IB kit (A19003) in the Airfix range and the opportunity to discover the delights of modelling in this larger scale for themselves. It appears this feature served capture many readers imaginations and we are pleased to say they we received thousands of entries for this competition, the majority of which selected the correct answer. Unfortunately, as is the case with most competitions, there can only be one winner and we are pleased to announce that lucky reader, selected at random from all the correct entries received is Tim Ecclestone.

Congratulations to Tim, who has already received his winners e-mail notification and will be looking forward to his 1/24th scale Hawker Typhoon arriving very soon. Thank you to everyone who took part in the competition and for helping to make it such a success – even though you didn’t win this time, we will have plenty more competitions to enter over the coming months, so hopefully your luck may be in next time.

Forsaken Airfix cars star at Huddersfield Show

Airfix VW Beetle Starter Set 1:32 A55207
Airfix VW Beetle Starter Set 1:32 A55207

Ian Walker had a clear vision when planning this ‘Hedgerow Beetle’ project, but making it a reality would require a great deal of modelling skill

One of the undoubted joys of attending the many model shows which take place around the UK each year is not only to see the incredible modelling talent on display at each venue, but also to discuss the foresight and imagination possessed by many modellers who produce some truly outstanding work. One such conversation took place with Ian Walker at the Huddersfield Model Show back in February, who was one of the team members sitting behind a well stocked Airfix Modelling Special Interest Group display table, watching visitors enjoy their work. Amongst the many modelling delights were a trio of models which were irresistible and absolutely fascinating in the fact that they were rotten, absolutely decrepit. It seemed as if these purposely less than perfect model builds were the centre of attention and everyone who looked at them had a beaming smile on their face – we simply had to find out more.

Airfix 1:32nd scale vehicle kit range
Airfix 1:32nd scale vehicle kit range

How could someone do this to a British motoring icon? This once loved Mini has simply been left abandoned, slowly rusting away in the corner of a field

Ian has been a modeller for many years, but a renewed impetus to his modelling occurred eight years ago, when he decided to take early retirement. Some of the builds he has undertaken since this date have been connected to a collection of family photographs he discovered, which feature images from his father’s wartime service with the RAF and indeed, we will be covering one of these in a future edition of Workbench. The idea behind Ian’s ‘Rusty Wrecks’ project came from his intention to join in with a group build on the Airfix Tribute Forum – ‘Cars of Great Britain’. His plan from the outset was to do something a little different and rather than depict the vehicles in pristine, showroom condition, finish them at the opposite end of their existence, dilapidated and abandoned. The original subject was going to be the Ford Escort Mk.1, which Ian described (a little tongue in cheek) as the ‘Dagenham Dustbin’ and a car that he knew well from his younger days – having owned one, he knew where the Escort tended to suffer the effects of rust, which would be important in producing a believable model. Unfortunately, he struggled to get hold of a suitable kit at first but did come across the recently released VW Beetle kit, which he decided would make an equally suitable subject.

Airfix 1:32nd scale vehicle kit range
Airfix 1:32nd scale vehicle kit range

Not content with leaving this Ford Escort Mk.1 to rot away, some kind soul has decided it would be a good idea to set fire to one of Dagenham’s finest!

It seems a little strange to most of us when we strive to produce the best looking model representation of any aircraft or vehicle that Ian was scrutinising his new purchase and planning what he needed to do to make it look as neglected as possible. Much of this work would have to be done prior to the construction of the kit and he would have to plan where he was going to place dents, bumps and bangs not to mention scraped and faded paintwork and copious amounts of rust. Importantly, this would all have to result in a model which achieved the appearance he was intending, whilst also looking believable to anyone viewing the finished model – this really does seem like quite a challenge. To illustrate this, the front wheel arch on the Beetle has rusted through completely in one section, which required the delicate and sympathetic attentions of a very fine needle to pierce the plastic. Also, the indent in the roof would prove to be a particular challenge, as thinning the plastic in this area of the roof simply saw it spring back to its original position – a bit of modelling guile and an overnight appointment with some strategically placed adhesive solved the problem and the 'Hedgerow Beetle' project carried on apace.

Airfix 1:32nd scale vehicle kit range

Terrible Trio – Although absolutely fascinating to look at, these beautiful models are just crying out to be loved, which is possibly why they were definitely amongst the most popular exhibits at the recent Huddersfield Model Show

As you can see from the pictures included here, Ian did a magnificent job with the Beetle, which whilst looking a little sorry for itself, is absolutely superb as a piece of modelling artwork and completely fascinating to look at. It is just crying out for someone to take this once loved classic and restore it to its former glory, which is actually the exact opposite of what was intended with this project. It would be really interesting to see this model displayed next to a traditionally finished example of this kit, just to add some balance and to illustrate the impressive work Ian did with his ‘Beetle Birdbath’. Ian was also displaying a battered old Mini and a burnt out Escort, which whilst all adopting a similar theme, required different modelling approaches and produced subtlety different results – we feel sure you will agree that all display a great deal of skill and are fascinating to look at. Thank you to Ian for allowing us to show his work and the AMSIG team at the Huddersfield show, who took the time to discuss their display with us and allow the taking of these individual model shots. We hope to catch up with you all at a future show.

That’s it for yet another feature packed edition of Workbench, but we will be back in two weeks’ time with another interesting selection of Airfix news, features and modelling updates. We did plan to include an update on our Caricature Competition developments in this edition, however this did not prove possible and will appear in a forthcoming blog.

As you know, we are always keen to gauge the thoughts of our readers and there are several ways in which you can contact us, which include our dedicated e-mail address at workbench@airfix.com and of course the Workbench thread over on the Airfix Forum. If social media is more your style, you could access either the Airfix Facebook page or our Twitter channel, using #airfixworkbench where you will find plenty of modelling news, views and discussion. Whichever medium you decide to use, please do get in touch, as it is always interesting to hear from fellow modelling enthusiasts and the projects you have on the go at the moment.

As always, the Airfix website is the place to go for all the latest model release information, with our New Arrivals, Coming Soon and Last Chance to Buy sections all accessed by clicking on the above links. As updating the website is a constant process, a quick search through each section of the Airfix web pages will reveal new information and updated images in many of the product sections and this is always an enjoyable and rewarding way to spend a few minutes.

The next edition of Workbench is due to be published on Friday 27th April, when we look forward to bringing you all the latest news, updates and exclusives from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling.

Thank you for your continued support of our Airfix Workbench blog.

The Airfix Workbench Team


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